Main Issues at AIDS Conference Already Crowded Out of Headlines
As the AIDS Convention in Bangkok heats up with the controversy over protected sex versus no-sex, the real issues threaten to get muddled. The number one issue remains whether access to prevention and treatment resources will be spread to all or whether a two-tier (rich-poor) system will continue to divide the life chances of people (ie. the theme "Access for All." The US should stop playing petty politics and ensure that Bish's $15B AIDS committment does not get wasted. It should be added to the UN's Aids fund rather than have its own agenda. Another issue is whether religious and traditional beleifs will continue to get in the way of education and prevention strategies (education, needle-sharing, pregnancy testing, condoms, etc). The Bush Adminstration believs that outmoded beliefs hold sway, even on the most threatening of global issues. Yet, we are lead to believe that South Africa, which attempts to give its generic drugs to all, is the source of problemativ thinking on AIDS.
Cuba, a Rare AIDS Success Story, is Ignored
Thailand was chosen as the locale for the UN's AIDS Conference, and Uganda was given a hefty role - for their supposed succcess in combatting the AIDS epidemic. Meanwhile, not one article or official item has appeared in the press regading the most obvious of AIDS sucess - that of Cuba. Cuba's AIDS rate is less than .03 per 1000 - the lowest in the Americas - and in stark contrast to the rates 100 hundred times higher in neighboring Haiti, Trinidad or even Barbados. The reason for the success in Cuba is simple - very early recognition of the AIDS threat, a completely open and free public health care system and a humanitarian ideology, that puts the good of all and the well-being of the individual in proper perspective. Cuba dispenses vaccines for all, tests all pregant women and engages in a comprehensive program of education and public awareness (condoms a big part). For me, the success of Cuba shows hte idiocy of the condoms vs. abstinence debate. One would be hard=ressed to find a more sex-crazed population, yet the results speak for themselves.